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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 269 > Big Gay Following

Big Gay Following

TOGETHER, BAILEY AND BARBATO ARE WORLD OF WONDER, THE PRODUCTION COMPANY BEHIND RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE, PARTY MONSTER AND NOW MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES, THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE NOTORIOUS PHOTOGRAPHER

FENTON BAILEY & RANDY BARBATO

Robert Mapplethorpe’s legacy is huge – not only was he a brilliant and controversial photographer, with his documentation of New York’s leather scene, but he did more than any other artist to have photography recognised as an art form. It’s incredible to think of now, but until the 1980s photography just wasn’t considered art. In the course of his life, Mapplethorpe enlisted the great and the good to his cause, catapulting himself to fame. Now his legacy is being examined properly for the first time on film by directors Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato.

When did the idea to do a Mapplethorpe documentary first start formulating in your minds?

Fenton: About two years ago. We couldn’t believe that a full-length documentary hadn’t been done.

Randy: There have been a few shorter ones.

F: The BBC did an hour-long one before he died [in 1989, having been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS three years earlier], but there hasn’t been the definitive story, and a lot of people have had a lot to say about Mapplethorpe, whether it be Jesse Helms [the late conservative US politician] or Patti Smith. What struck us was that there was an opportunity for Mapplethorpe himself to tell his story. And that’s what our film does.

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About Attitude

Out gay NFL player Michael Sam leads our All American issue. Inside, there’s an exclusive extract from the book everyone’s talking about What Belongs To You, gay singer Parson James on growing up in the homophobic and racist Deep South, and an interview with the guys behind the excellent new Robert Mapplethorpe documentary. Elsewhere, there’s our Gay Guide to America, we look at Hollywood’s history of closeted movie stars, and celebrating the icons that made queer USA great. Plus, FREE with this issue our guide to best of Thailand.